Having done inquiry projects in the past, I was excited to begin a new one for Judith Rodby’s Literacy Studies class; from the moment this inquiry project was assigned, however, it already had a different feel to it. I had already researched how classroom design can affect student success, and whether using contemporary literature in the classroom has more affordance than using classic literature. I wasn’t sure what topic I wanted to dive deeper into for this project right away, but I knew I was going to want to produce something that would help future teachers become knowledgeable about many of the topics we had been discussing during the semester. Since I was only a couple weeks away from graduation (and an actual position as a student teacher) I knew my research would no longer be something that was “hypothetical” but something that I could actually use to help me be more successful in my student teaching career. For this reason, I decided to investigate farther into the main terms we had been discussing in class; my initial goal was to give a definition for each term, theorists who agree and disagree with the term, and potential lesson ideas that teachers could use that connected to each term. My original terms list was as follows: Funds of knowledge, cultural capital, interpolation, power codes, redressive texts, critical literacy, culturally responsive pedagogy, multimediating/web 2.0, DEconstruction of incompetence, bricolage, Households+communities+classrooms, inquiry, identity (identity exploration/construction), essential questions, culture war.

After sharing this with Judith, I was told that I had a very thorough and useful idea, but I was possibly biting off more than I would be able to chew with such a large term list. I was told to narrow my topics down to the three main ones, but I had absolutely no idea how I would do that at first because I thought ALL the terms were important! I decided I would do introductory research first on each topic and see what followed from that point. Amazingly, after typing each word into Google Scholar and reading the first couple of article titles that came up, it seemed that the important terms separated themselves into main category headings, and the less important- or perhaps less discussed among educators- were eliminated. I settled on the three main research categories of: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Funds of Knowledge, and Web 2.0, with an introduction discussing Motivation.

Once I had these major themes, I was able to do more in depth research on JSTOR through CSUC. Since I am an obsessively organized person, the process I went through was probably a little more intense than it needed to be. For each category, I typed as many terms as I could think of into Google Scholar and saved the articles that came up as PDFs onto my computer. Once I had a good amount, I opened each article and did a brief preview of what each article was about, taking notes on the important data and separating the articles into 3 folders on my desktop: Good Articles, Not Sure Articles and Not So Good Articles. I put the most “reader friendly” articles into the “good articles” folder, because they seemed to be reaching towards a similar audience as I was, and the more “technical” or statistic heavy articles into the “Not so good articles” folder because I did not want to dedicate an enormous amount of time or energy into deciphering scientific educational studies and then having to replay these studies out if I wanted to discuss them later. I thought by sticking to the articles that were divided into clear parts and had interesting quotes already emphasized in the text I would be able to find the best information to relay to a variety of teachers.

Once I had read over fifteen articles, pulling out the most interesting and thought-provoking quotes, I reassessed what my final product was going to be for this project. When doing my research, I found a lot of great Web 2.0 applications for educators. Also, I had collected an extensive “For More Information” list in my notes, filled with a number of websites. I realized while looking back through this information that it would not only be hypocritical but it would be extremely silly for me to give information to future teachers about using Web 2.0 in their classroom and other contemporary teaching techniques while presenting the information using a traditional type of media. I decided then that it would make much more sense (and give me more real-life experience) if I was to make a Wikispace webpage in order to compile my data. This way, visitors would be able to click around in a non-linear fashion and explore the areas that interest them the most first. Also, there would be direct links to the additional resources that would make it easier for non-computer savvy explorers.

The decision to make a Wiki, as opposed to a printed text product, also excited me; it brought the “realness” of the project to life that much more. I was no longer making a pamphlet that teachers “could use”, yet would never actually have in their hands, but an easily and widely accessible resource that teachers could find and really use! It was an exhilarating thought!

Because I had already typed out the most important parts of each article into my notes, it was easy to transfer them onto the website. I was initially going to paste the quotes onto the WIkispace to simply organize them and then re-write them later. As I organized the information more and more, however, I did not think it would be smart to paraphrase these quotes, as I included them for their power in their original states. Why would I want to damage their integrity by paraphrasing them, when they were written the way they first published were for a reason. Instead of re-writing each page of information, I instead decided it would be most beneficial to focus my attention on making the Wikispace as user friendly and “browseable” as possible so that the information I found to be important would actually be read, and not simply passed over and forgotten.

It would not have been enough, however, to simply pull what I felt to be important out of the articles and only lay that out for visitors to see; I included links to the original PDF files for each article to allow somebody who is interested in a particular topic to read the article from which that information came and be able to make their own conclusions. That isn’t to say that I didn’t make my own, conclusions, however. The home page, the introduction, and this research narrative are places in the texts where my voice can be heard and are written entirely by me. I did not want to throw my opinion too far into the project, however, because I saw a lot of “confrontations” and minor arguments emerge in class discussions by trying to compete with varying ideologies. Instead, I thought it would be the most beneficial to the most people by simply giving the information I found from scholarly articles and allowing students/teachers to take from it what they would.

In the end, I write this piece almost completely done with the website (minus the Critical Literacy Page… if you can’t find that link by the time you are reading this, I might not have included it…). I have to say that I am THRILLED with what came to be through my process. I feel that at this point, the Wikispace has accomplished my goal: to create a place where future teachers can learn about the topics we discussed in class and perhaps start their own inquiry process. The nature of Wikis, however, opens this project up to a life beyond this project; interested parties can not only continue exploring the website beyond the end of the year, but can potentially JOIN the Wiki and expand it beyond where it stands today. I am sad in this moment that I am brining this inquiry project Wiki to a close, but excited and interested to see how it transforms through time through the inquiry of future interested parties!